The Montessori Work Cycle
Welcome to Lesson 5 of the Montessori Homeschooling 101 Series!
Today, we will cover the Montessori Work Cycle and what that could look like in your home school.
You have to understand that the Work Period in a home will NOT look like the work period in a school.
In a traditional Montessori school, the work cycle is 3 hours. Children are free to choose work, some of the time the guide presents new lessons, and many Montessori environments include Circle Time (although Circle Time is not always considered "pure" Montessori.)
Three hours in a school doesn't translate to three hours at home. If you embrace homeschooling alongside Montessori philosophies, your child will be quite independent at home and have plenty of "practical life" activities to immerse himself in throughout the day by helping around the home, dressing and caring for himself, and working alongside you in the kitchen and garden.
When you first start out giving your child lessons at home, it may be a bit awkward for both of you (or all of you if you have more than one child you are teaching.) Your child may not be ready to jump into a long work cycle, and it is wise to not expect this right out of the gate.
When you are just starting out, 20 minutes is great! Try to get up to 45 minutes of focused work with the materials you have set out on shelves within two weeks of homeschooling.
If you feel like that's working for your child, then stick with 45 minutes!
If you think your child can do more, then work your way up to 1.5-2 hours MAX, adding only another 5-15 minutes each week until your child is happily hitting your goal.
A child who works at home will have so much more time for practical life activities, pretend play, time in nature, and real life experiences than a child who works at a Montessori school (no matter how good it is).
If you are intentional about involving your child in self-care, household maintenance, and cooking, you are giving your child a rich education at home! These are usually not factored into a homeschool "work time," because you do not need to interrupt real life to let your child experience real work!
So, please do not feel like your child needs to do 3 hours of "shelf work" each day. 45 minutes is plenty if it is focused time!
Here are some work period goals I have set for my children. Use them as an example, not as a rule!
Age 3: Start with 15 minutes, work up to 45 minutes.
Age 4: 1 hour
Age 5: 1.5-2 hours
Age 6: 2-2.5 hours (*We consider age 6 "first grade" which means the child is in "lower elementary" instead of the "primary" group.)
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If you're looking for more lessons in the Montessori Homeschooling 101 series, here are the links:
- Lesson 1: Finding a Space to Do Montessori Lessons
- Lesson 2: Where to Buy Montessori Materials & DIY Alternatives
- Lesson 3: Setting Up Your First Month of Montessori Lessons
- Lesson 4: The Montessori Work Rug
- Lesson 5: The Montessori Work Cycle
- Lesson 6: The Montessori 3 Period Lesson
- Lesson 7: Freedom within Limits in a Montessori Homeschool
- Lesson 8: How to Follow Your Child
- Lesson 9: Incorporating Other Homeschooling Methods
- Lesson 10: Giving Yourself the Freedom to Leave Things Out
- Lesson 11: Working with Multiple Ages